Limited overs specialist Jos Buttler will replace the struggling Ben Duckett in a rejigged England batting lineup, skipper Alastair Cook confirmed ahead of his team’s third Test against India beginning on Saturday.
The tourists will also miss the services of paceman Stuart Broad and left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari through injuries as they press for a series-levelling victory at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium.
“Jos is an extremely talented cricketer,” Cook told reporters, confirming Buttler will bat at number seven, while all-rounder Moeen Ali would come at four, ahead of wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Buttler played the last of his 15 Tests against Pakistan last year but Cook was confident the 26-year-old would overcome a lack of preparation and replicate his limited overs form in Test cricket.
“He’s up there in top three-four short form players in the world. We’re dealing with a very talented guy,” Cook said.
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“He has earned an opportunity to come and play here. It’s clearly not ideal because of circumstances and he hasn’t played a lot of red-ball cricket but sometimes when the pressure’s off and you just go out and play, you can do something special.”
Duckett’s scores of 13, five and zero in his three innings in India underline his struggle against the spin with the promising 22-year-old claimed by Ravichandran Ashwin on all three occasions.
“He won’t be the only good player who has ever got dropped. He has an England future, there’s no doubt about it,” said Cook.
“He has got an issue which unfortunately has been found out quite quickly, which can happen in this part of the world in international cricket.
“He can go and address that and come again because he’s a very talented and exciting cricketer in all three forms. It’s just a blip in his career and he will have to work at his game.”
Chris Woakes will replace Broad, while Bairstow, despite Buttler’s return, would balance his dual duties of keeping wickets along with his promotion in the batting order.
“Jonny had a glint in his eye when I said ‘we’d like you to move up to five’,” Cook said declining to name Ansari’s replacement.
“It gives him more chance to bat. He bats at five and keeps at Yorkshire so he’s used to that role.
“If everything was ideal we’d leave him at seven because it gives him a bit more time to recover but it gives him more time to bat with better batters.”